Port State Measures Agreement Implementation Act

An Act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act to implement the Port State Measures Agreement, to prohibit the importation of fish caught and marine plants harvested in the course of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to clarify certain powers in respect of the administration and enforcement of the Act.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:05 p.m.
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Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time today with the hon. member for Yukon.

I am pleased to stand in the House today to support Bill S-3, amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. As my hon. colleagues have stated, these amendments would give Canada and our global partners the tools to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities more effectively.

When it comes to foreign fishing vessels, Canada already has a robust port patrol system. The vast majority of annually stocked fishing vessels are Canadian. Our comprehensive port licensing and inspection requirements mean that vessels fishing illegally on the high seas already avoid Canadian ports.

Nevertheless, Canada has made a commitment to implement additional measures in order to support global efforts to combat illegal fishing worldwide. Once approved, the proposed amendments to the act will allow us to better protect the economic interests of our hard-working, legitimate Canadian fishermen and their families by strengthening the global effort to combat illegal fishing and further preventing access to the Canadian marketplace.

Of course, Canada is no stranger to strong fisheries enforcement and conservation. It is an area that we already take very seriously. For example, our domestic conservation and protection program applies a rigorous standard of scrutiny to our fisheries to ensure that practices are responsible and consistent with legal or regulatory requirements.

There are approximately 584 fisheries officers in the conservation and protection program, which continues to recruit new, dedicated talent. In fact, a new class of 22 recruits is currently training and is scheduled to graduate this month. We support the crucial work these officers do with the ongoing development of a national fisheries intelligence service, which complements existing enforcement efforts and will address the areas of greatest risk.

Additionally, five new specialized midshore patrol vessels were built and deployed on the east and west coast, specifically to conduct fisheries enforcement patrols. These efforts to protect our domestic fisheries are garnering real results. From 2012 to 2014, fisheries officers detected over 23,000 violations. They issued over 5,500 charges, which resulted in issuing over 2,600 tickets, and they obtained over 2,900 convictions, an overall $6 million in fines.

In the case of the Atlantic halibut, our government recently announced that over the past five years our enforcement efforts had resulted in over $1 million in fines and 164 convictions.

When it comes to ensuring the sustainability of our fisheries, our government is delivering for Canadians.

Turning to the amendments that we are discussing today, it is important that we take the same dedication to enforcing protection in our fisheries as we do to protecting the port activities of our country. As has been stated by my colleagues earlier, the proposed changes would make it an offence to import illegal, unreported and unregulated fish into Canada, cutting off potential trade of illegal and unsustainable catches.

On top of the penalties and charges, these amendments ensure that courts have the power to fine those convicted under the act for importing illegally harvested fish and seafood products, with a penalty equal to the financial benefits of their illegal activity. This is in addition to strict penalties under the act, which include a summary conviction that would land an illegal harvester a fine of up to $100,000, a conviction or indictment costing vessels up to $500,000, and subsequent convictions that would garner up to double these fines.

The purpose of the port state measures agreement is to create an economic disincentive for this illegal activity. That is why the amendments have included the provision for the courts to order the convicted parties to pay an additional fine equal to the estimated financial benefit they expected to gain from committing the offence. Under the proposed amendments, it would definitely not pay to do the crime.

The species of fish that tend to be targeted for illegal fishing are those of the highest of value. Bluefin tuna and albacore tuna are great examples. From an international perspective, the cost of not taking these actions is too grave to risk, both for our economy and the environment. We must continue to support the efforts of the responsible international fishing community.

The amendments also cover several changes in definitions for consistency with the port state measures agreement. These definitions are phrased carefully to avoid catching the wrong vessels in the enforcement net. While we are broadening our international leadership, we will not saddle our legitimate industry with unnecessary bureaucracy.

As an example, the amended definition of “fishing vessel” would include any craft used in the transshipping of fish for marine plants, but it would not include vessels merely equipped to transship at sea that are not involved in fishing activity and are not carrying fish nor previously controlled in another port.

Naturally, it is not our intention to search for illegal fish on vessels that ship wheat or manufactured products. The proposed amendments will also redefine the term “fish”. In keeping with the port state measures agreement and in alignment with the Fisheries Act, “fish” would include shellfish and crustaceans as well. These amendments would also add a definition of “marine plant” to reflect the broad scope of the international agreement.

Bill S-3 would strengthen the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act greatly, aligning it with the new global standard articulated in the port state measures agreement. As part of meeting our international obligations, the bill would allow us to protect the livelihoods of legitimate fish harvesters in Canada more effectively.

Canada is a net exporter of fish and seafood, and our world-class products increasingly find their way onto the dinner plates of customers across the globe. The European Union and the United States are our key export markets, to the tune of $3.5 billion per year. For them, as for us, combatting illegal fishing is a high priority. We want to work together with our global allies to combat this scourge, and these amendments would allow us to be at the forefront with our international partners and our customers.

I want to take this opportunity to urge all hon. members to join me in supporting this bill to protect the livelihoods of legitimate, hard-working fishermen, who play by the rules, and to ensure sustainable management of fisheries for generations to come.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, few people in the House know this, but I was born near a small coastal village in the Gaspé called Grande-Rivière. My father worked for many years at the fishery school. We talked about the industry at home. Soon, we will pass this bill.

Fisheries have been transformed over the past 50 or 60 years. They have become industrial. Canada has drawn coastal boundaries to protect its fisheries.

We support this bill, but I am worried. Earlier, the whip said that as part of the new action plan, information would be shared with other countries. Can we get a more specific action plan to protect our fisheries?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member, I too was born in a coastal fishing community and I certainly have a great deal of respect for those who earn their living at sea. We would not want to do anything that would jeopardize that livelihood in any way, shape or form.

As per the port state measures agreement, we will participate with other countries that share the same beliefs and same goals that we have with respect to protecting a livelihood we value and cherish for many years to come. Under the agreement, we will continue to work with these countries to ensure this livelihood continues for many years.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, coming from the Prairies, Manitoba has a very strong, active commercial fishing industry that employs several thousand Manitobans and provides a substantial income. Whether it is on our many lakes or in the Churchill area, there is a great deal of concern with respect to overfishing or the types of fish being brought into Canada, potentially illegally.

How will this legislation impact Manitoba's commercial fishing industry?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that the province of Manitoba has a vibrant fishing community. As the member might or might not be aware, I chair the fisheries committee. My hon. colleague from Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette is always making the other members of that committee and me aware of how vibrant the industry in Manitoba is.

The port state measures agreement that we will sign on to through the passage of this legislation will enhance the protection of all fisheries in the member countries. We are in agreement with the other countries with respect to reducing the amount of unreported and unregulated fishing activities. We want to reduce the amount of illegal activity, which is good for our entire fishing industry. It will show that our country does not fool around when it comes to illegal activity, when it comes to protecting a fishery that so many depend on for their livelihoods. We are not prepared to screw around with that at all.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:15 p.m.
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NDP

Paulina Ayala NDP Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is one thing that worries me. Yes, this bill is a step in the right direction, but the Conservative government basically gutted the Fisheries Act, and the role of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is diminishing every year in coastal communities.

How, then, does the government plan to enforce this bill without adequate resources to do so? How can we eliminate illegal fishing without the resources needed to do so? It does not just magically happen; it takes resources.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Rodney Weston Conservative Saint John, NB

Mr. Speaker, the member might not have heard, but in my speech I noted that we had large enforcement agency and we would continue to expand it on an annual basis. This month we anticipate another 22 officers graduating, and we look forward to training more in the years to come.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:20 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased, today, to stand in this House to add my comments about Bill S-3, an act to amend the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act.

We have heard today from many members of this House on the merits of these amendments. I will be using my time to reiterate the need for these amendments and highlight a few of the key points that have been discussed.

As we have heard, the purpose of the bill is to enable Canada to ratify the international agreement on port state measures to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

As a former conservation officer myself and ex officio fisheries officer, I understand that a strong, sustainable fishing industry supports jobs and economic growth in rural communities and, indeed, in all communities in this country. In Canada, the seafood industry is a major economic driver. Canadian fishermen work hard and play by the rules. Our country has a rigorous fisheries management system and measures in place to ensure that our fisheries are sustainable and will be present for future generations.

Unfortunately, not all of the world's oceans are so well protected. While Canada's current Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and extensive catch monitoring programs already deter illegal fishing vessels from entering our ports, the bill would further expand our powers to prevent illegal fish from entering the Canadian marketplace and support the global effort to stop illegal fishing.

I cannot stress enough that globally illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is an issue of grave concern. The port state measures agreement would deal with the worldwide problem of illegal fishing, which has serious economic and environmental consequences to Canadians. Fish are a highly valued commodity and, as such, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has rapidly become a new global challenge. Illegal fishing operators gain economic advantage over legitimate fish harvesters through lower costs of operation, by circumventing national laws and regulations.

They also undermine conservation and management measures of regional fishery management organizations and other international standards, often including those for labour and safety conditions for the crew, the men and women who work aboard those vessels.

Illegal fish in the global market can depress prices for fish products from legitimate fish harvesters. Canadian fishermen feel the impacts of illegal fishing, including unfair competition and price fluctuations created by illegal producers flooding the international markets. Canadian seafood exports are worth $4 billion annually and 85% of all of our fish harvested is exported.

Therefore, Canada has a major economic stake in ensuring that illegal fish are kept off the global market.

We need to continue to be leaders in the international fight against threats to our fishing industry, in order to maintain a fair and stable market environment for our high quality fish and seafood exports.

Canada has a well-regulated fisheries. We are not the problem when it comes to illegal fishing. However, we can be part of the global situation and global solution. By strengthening the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, we would protect this vital resource and support the international fight against this global scourge.

On this side of the House, we stand by our commitments. Canada signed the port state measures act agreement in 2010 and, as demonstrated by this bill being brought forward today, we will follow through on this commitment.

The amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act would also expand our capacity to deal with illegally caught fish from other jurisdictions. If a vessel is fishing outside of the controls required by a regional fish management organization or international norms, then fish caught by that vessel would be subject to intervention under this act.

We would now have the ability to deal with illegal fish product imports in an efficient way that would support the intent of the port state measures agreement.

We are proud of the already strong port access regime for foreign fishing vessels. Among other measures, Canada does not allow entry to vessels that are on the illegal, unreported and unregulated lists of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization or the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.

These lists are a key tool for combatting illegal fishing globally. Included on these lists are fishing vessels and any craft that helps fishing vessels engage in illegal acts. For example, crafts providing fuel, transshipping products or packing materials would be covered and included in the list.

With these proposed amendments, we would be building on the already strong legislation to protect fishermen and fisherwomen and our national economy. Arrangements have already been undertaken among several regional fisheries management organizations to share such lists so that members can take the necessary action to deny port entry or services to these listed vessels. This would make illegal fishing more difficult and expensive for criminals.

The proposed changes to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act set out tough prohibitions against the importation of illegally caught fish and other living marine organisms. Contravention of these provisions would be an offence under the amended Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, with strict penalties specified under the act. Together, these measures would help to dry up the profits from illegal fishing activities.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in close collaboration with the Canada Border Services Agency, would carry out enforcement with a view to protect legitimate cross-border trade of fish and seafood products. Preventing illegally taken fish and seafood products from entering Canadian markets is also a priority for Canada's trading partners, such as the United States and the European Union. Controls at the border for illegal fish harvests would bolster Canada's reputation as a responsible nation and a responsible trading partner.

I am a member of the fisheries committee. During our study of the bill, additional technical amendments were introduced to further strengthen this bill. The first new amendment introduced would enable Canada to make regulations that could specifically document requirements for the imports of fish and seafood products from fisheries management organizations, to which Canada is not party. This is a practical measure, as these amendments would address the situation of illegally harvested seafood from parts of the world where Canada does not fish, but from which it imports. Should a regional fisheries management organization in another region implement certification measures, we would have the authority to also require this documentation. This is a common sense measure and a common sense amendment, which we heard in committee, and we are pleased to put that forward. It would also ensure consistency and improve the sustainability of fisheries throughout the world while we are protecting legitimate trade.

The second amendment is a technical, common sense amendment to ensure that vessels or goods that have been seized are not returned to the offender upon conviction.

The bill, along with the additional amendments presented in the committee report to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act that are before the House, would strengthen and clarify Canada's domestic rules and reinforce its leadership in the global fight against harmful fishing. This bill demonstrates Canada's commitment to addressing the global challenge of combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing by ensuring a modern legislative framework.

I am proud to be part of a government that is taking action against this global problem, which impacts our fishermen and fisherwomen here at home. We cannot tolerate the illegal exploitation of the world's great resources.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:25 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's contribution to this debate. He is a member of the fisheries committee.

I wonder if he shares my disappointment. This is an important piece of legislation. It would enact an international agreement that was signed by nations, and it is important that it get done and that we deal with this issue. I will talk about this in more detail in my intervention.

This was first introduced into the Senate as Bill S-13, and it passed third reading there on March 7, 2013. That was over two years ago. I wonder if the member shares my disappointment that this important piece of legislation has languished so long in the back rooms, or wherever it languishes, and has not been adequately dealt with in a timely fashion here in the House of Commons.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for both his intervention here and his contributions to our fisheries committee. I look forward to his remarks later in the day. As we move this forward, members heard in my intervention how critical unreported, unregulated fisheries are, not just in Canada but globally. We have a number of key partners involved in this, some 25 states signing onto this agreement, 11 of which have completed and are signatories to this now.

It is important that we get this right. It is important that we take the time, which we did at the fisheries committee where we engaged in a pretty detailed review of this. We were able to ask for technical advice and get the proper input to make sure that we had the right piece of legislation going forward.

We can preserve and protect the integrity of Canada's fishing industry, both our imports and our exports. That is not something that should be taken lightly or rushed through. The House, the Senate and our committee have given it due consideration as reflected by the amendments that are now being put forward here today. We have done a good job. I think the committee has done a good job and Canada can be proud of this. Our industry can be confident that this piece of legislation is going to leave Canada at the forefront of tackling this very serious issue.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on the previous question. We need not only to recognize the fishing industry here in Canada, but to recognize that in the world we have failed to provide stronger leadership from Canada, given the vastness, the coastlines, the interest and strong potential that Canada could be playing at the international scene.

The reason we have this legislation before us is because of an international agreement, so it is a follow-through from that agreement.

Does the member believe that Canada could actually be playing a stronger leadership role, not only here in Canada, but more so in the world when it comes to the important issue of world fisheries?

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, my colleague's question is important and he raises a great point about Canada and the geography. There are 25 member states that are required to sign this FAO agreement and 11 have done so, so we are not quite at the halfway point yet. Canada is such a massive nation and the member pointed out that our coastline is so significant. When we look at what our primary law enforcement agencies and others are doing to deter, detect, prevent and enforce regulations on such a broad coastline, I think they should be commended.

As we look at signing these agreements, we need to make sure that we have the legislation right, and that the tools are appropriate and proper, not just for those agencies, but in the context of the geography in which they have to work. Canada has to do land-based patrols, aerial surveillance patrols, sea patrols, dockside monitoring, electric monitoring, all kinds of things from coast to coast to coast. It is not an easy task, but Canadians are doing a great job. Canada is showing significant leadership on this file simply because of the operating conditions that we work in.

We are in a vastly different pool of regulatory regimes here in Canada and we are doing a wonderful job. Other nations can look to Canada and see how we are able to deter, prevent and detect unregulated, unreported fishing with such big boundaries to protect. The men and women who are doing that job are doing a fantastic job.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:35 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure and privilege to rise to speak to this legislation, Bill S-3.

As I indicated in my question to the member who spoke before me, I am disappointed by the fact that it has taken so long for this piece of legislation to work its way through the process. It was introduced in the Senate. It should not have been introduced in the Senate to begin with; it should have come through the House of Commons. Instead of slipping it in through the back door, it should have been dealt with here first by the elected representatives of Canadians.

The member suggested that Canada has a significant coastline. Canada has the longest coastline in the world. There are also important ocean nurseries, such as Georges Bank and Lancaster Sound. I am continually frustrated by the lack of leadership that the government shows on issues like this, issues that deal with our fishery, oceans, ocean health and the ocean ecosystem. The Conservatives committed to another international agreement through the UN that 10% of our coastal ecosystem in marine-protected areas would be protected by the year 2020. There is not a hope, if we continue at this pace, that we are ever going to achieve that commitment.

Luckily, as a result of the election that is about to be upon us, on October 19, a New Democrat government is going to start putting things in place to make sure that commitment is fulfilled and that 10% of our coastal ecosystem in marine-protected areas is protected by 2020. It can be done; it just requires the will. New Democrats will show the Conservatives how that is done.

Before I get into the significance of the bill and the lack of leadership we have seen by the government, another important issue is the government's failure to support my colleague's bill, Bill C-380, on shark finning. The member for New Westminster—Coquitlam has worked tirelessly on this issue. He has worked tirelessly on it because it is important. It is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins alone. He worked with members on all sides of the House to get their support, and it was close, but too many members on the government side bailed. They would not stand up. They said they were going to bring in stronger enforcement against shark finning, but that simply has not happened. That is another example of the lack of leadership on this important issue by the government.

I will not forget to mention that the government has cut funds for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Coast Guard by well over $100 million over the last couple of years in the area of science and enforcement. It has been one thing after another. Frankly, it is laughable when members opposite stand and talk about the leadership role that they play in fisheries management and protecting the oceans. As I have suggested, they do not contribute in any way in a leadership role on the issue of healthy oceans internationally.

Turning to Bill S-3, the bill was last debated in the House in February 2014. I do not know why that is. We had two committee meetings to deal with it, so it was not the committee that held it up, that is for sure. As it was, we only dealt with a few technical amendments and then voted to pass it on.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing continues to be a very important global issue. It affects not only the health of our ocean's ecosystem and issues of conservation of stock management, but it also affects our economy.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a major contributor to declining fish stocks and marine habitat destruction. Globally, IUU fishing takes many forms, both within nationally controlled waters and on the high seas. We know that it further threatens marine ecosystems, puts food security and regional stability at risk, and is linked to major human rights violations and organized crime.

While it is not known for sure how much IUU fishing is taking place, it is estimated that IUU fishing accounts for about 30% of all fishing activity worldwide. The worldwide value placed on IUU catches is somewhere between $4 billion and $9 billion a year. Approximately $1.25 billion of this illegally captured fish is thought to be taken from the high seas, with the remainder fished illegally within the 200-mile limit of coastal states. The overall impact on the global economy, however, is valued much higher, in the area of $23.5 billion.

As members would expect, illegal fishing is most prevalent where governance measures to manage fisheries are the weakest, which explains why developing countries are the hardest hit by IUU fishing. An estimated $1 billion in IUU fishing happens in the coastal waters of sub-Saharan Africa each year.

Strong governance of the high seas through regional fisheries management organizations is integral to reducing illegal fishing activities. The bill before us would help ensure that IUU fish do not make it onto the Canadian market and would provide disincentives for black market fish markets.

Tackling fishing on the high seas, as we have seen historically, requires large-scale international co-operation and commitment, both in terms of providing resources to implement agreed measures, such as in this case, implementing the port state measures agreement, and of coordinating efforts between relevant national and international authorities where, as I have suggested earlier, Canada should be a global leader.

Here in Canada, believe it or not, we do have fairly strong policies and enforcement to combat illegal fishing within our waters. Unfortunately, with the cutbacks to the Department of National Defence and DFO as it relates to the Coast Guard, we continue to be concerned with the ability of the government to actually carry out its enforcement responsibilities within the 200-mile limit.

I will speak for a minute about the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act. It regulates foreign fishing vessels fishing in Canada, as well as harvesting sedentary species like oysters and clams on the continental shelf of Canada beyond Canadian fisheries waters. The act also extends its application to the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization, NAFO, regulatory area and prohibits specific classes of foreign fishing vessels from fishing for straddling stocks. The act also prohibits fishing vessels without nationality from fishing in Canadian or NAFO waters.

As I indicated, Bill S-3 is making changes to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and enacting the international port state measures agreement that requires 25 nations to sign on in order for it to be ratified. Unfortunately, it has not reached even halfway yet.

The port state measures agreement specifically aims to prevent illegally caught fish from entering international markets through ports. Under the terms of the treaty, foreign vessels would provide advance notice and request permission for port entry. Countries would conduct regular inspections in accordance with universal minimum standards. Offending vessels would be denied use of the port or certain port services, and information sharing networks would be created.

The bill also provides regulatory power in relation to authorizing foreign fishing vessels ordered to port by their flag state to enter Canadian waters to verify compliance with law or conservation and management measures of fisheries as an organization.

The bill expands the definition of “fishing vessel”, which we have heard, to include any vessels used in the transshipment of fish or marine plants that have not been previously handled. The bill further expands the current definition of “fish” from shellfish, crustaceans and marine animals to include any part or derivative of them.

The port state measures agreement is the first global treaty focused specifically on the problem of illegally, unreported and unregulated fishing. To date, the European Union, Norway, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar have already ratified the port state measures agreement. The United States has introduced legislation, similar to Canada, in an effort to ratify the PSMA. As I indicated, in order for it to take effect internationally, it requires ratification by 25 states.

The illegal, unreported and unregulated fishery is a serious problem. It is a serious problem for the reasons that I have indicated and others. Canada needs to be at the forefront of measures like this to ensure the agreement is ratified by 25 nations. My question would be as to what Canada is doing to ensure that 25 nations actually move forward and take steps to ratify this agreement. We have not heard that in any of the debate. If the government was taking a leadership role, it would be able to give us a report on that.

Surely the government must understand. As I said earlier it has been two years since the bill was first passed in the Senate. We have had lots of time. The government has been aware of the issue. The government has been involved with this issue. I would certainly like to know, and I have not heard an explanation or a report on progress, how the other states are doing on the whole question of ratification.

When can we expect the agreement to be implemented? Will it be ignored, like the commitment to protect 10% our coastal ecosystem by 2020? Have the signatories to this agreement set a date by which they want to have the agreement ratified? Can the government report on what it is that it has done?

I and other members here have expressed some of our frustration about the lack of action on various issues relating to coastal protection and the failure of the government in so many areas relating to habitat protection.

Speaking of frustration, today in our committee we were hearing from witnesses. There was one from Alberta, the fish and wildlife society I believe it was. He talked about his frustration with the fact that the federal government is not doing enough to deal with questions of the damage to fish habitat. In fact, if I caught it correctly, he said something to the effect that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is invisible in the western provinces.

I assured the witness that now that there is an NDP government in Alberta, he has the opportunity to work with a government that understands the importance of the environment and that, once an NDP government is in place after October 19, we would address that frustration. I assured him that we would ensure there is action taken in these areas and that the federal government would not be invisible in dealing with important issues of habitat management and ecosystem destruction.

We do not have enough time on these committees to ask questions, but one of our concerns is the way that industrial expansion and the development of resources and resource extraction are taking precedence over environmental protections, taking precedence over our ability to protect important marine ecosystems, our rivers and lakes, let alone our oceans.

As members know, the government made enormous negative changes to the Fisheries Act back in 2012 and really exposed itself to this country and to many Canadians. I am in contact every day with those Canadians. They are concerned about the lack of attention that the current government is giving to fish habitat and to our ecosystems, concerned that the Conservatives are primarily concerned with resource extraction, whether that be in the moving of resources. If there is a waterway in the way—if it is a fish-bearing river or brook—the Conservatives have provided for undertakings to be granted that will basically allow them to run pipelines over these rivers and streams and through lakes. Those are the concerns that many of us have expressed and that our witness was partly expressing in his testimony today, if I may say so.

What we are looking at in our committee is the whole issue of the recreational fishery. It is an important fishery economically and culturally. However, as the representative from the Thames River in southwestern Ontario told us, if we do not have a healthy habitat and we are not able to protect and restore marine habitat, we are not going to have any fish. While we want to talk about how important the recreational fishery is to this country, we have to ensure we protect that marine and fish habitat.

It is about leadership, which I have been trying to talk a bit about. While I am pleased that this piece of legislation has come forward, I am disappointed at how long it took. I am disappointed at the fact that the current government has not been out in the forefront of ensuring that illegal, unregulated, unreported fishery stops, not in 10 years' time but now or next year.

Let us see some timelines. Let us see the government taking some action to make sure that the 25 nations, which are supposed to ratify this agreement, get it done. The Conservatives have not indicated to us whatsoever the actions they are taking to make sure they get it done.

I will be supporting this legislation. I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak, and I would be happy to answer some questions.

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Ryan Leef Conservative Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention. He started with this and he ended with it: how disappointed he has been that this process has taken so long.

I ask my hon. colleague now to join me in calling on all members to remain seated. We can let the debate collapse and move to a voice vote, because the only thing that is delaying this from going forward now, it would appear to me—if the member is so concerned about getting the bill passed and done so quickly—is the continued debate on it. If we all agreed to sit down, this would go to a voice vote and we would be done. No more complaints about—

Port State Measures Agreement Implementation ActGovernment Orders

May 7th, 2015 / 1:55 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question because it absolutely underlines and highlights the approach the government has to this place, to the House of Commons, to Parliament. The Conservatives do not want to debate anything. They do not want to give us an opportunity to get up and talk about whether we support something or do not support something, and why. They do not want to hear that. They just want to control the agenda.

It was over a year ago that we last debated the bill. We now have the bill before us and we have had—what?—two hours to debate it and the Conservatives are already telling me to sit down. That is the way the government likes to deal with legislation. The Conservatives do not want debate. They do not want input. They just want to run it themselves.